Our Family

Our Family

Friday, August 1, 2014

4 H Cloverbud Picnic in the Park

Today was supposed to be a 4 H Cloverbud Picnic in the Park.  We were going to read Eric Carle books and make crafts that went along with the book and then eat our picnic lunch.  But, it started raining on Wednesday and it was still coming down this morning.  So the picnic in the park got moved indoors.  But, we still had a wonderful time!

There ended up only being 7 Cloverbuds who attended plus Emelia (who is 3 and 1/2) but the smaller numbers wasn't a bad thing.  The children were split into groups of 2 and rotated through 4 different stations.  At each station they were read a story and then made a craft to go along with the story.  If there was more time left over, they read through a few more books.


The Very Clumsy Click Beetle




The Little Cloud



The Grouchy Ladybug




The Very Hungry Caterpillar





Then it was time for a bit of exercise as they read from Head to Toe and acted out all of the motions.


We read Slowly, Slowly, Slowly said the Sloth altogether and did one more craft to go along with it.



Time for our indoor picnic lunch!


Ms. Tina made a yummy dessert for everyone.


Each child got a bag to put their crafts in and take home that said they went to the Picnic in the Park.  The bag also had some coloring pages and a box of crayons in it.

My crew had a wonderful time!  And if you missed out, they are planning on doing it again next summer.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Review: Treat Yourself by Jennifer Steinhauer





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  • More Info
  • Read Chapter One
  • Author Bio



  • Remember those snacks that were your favorites when you were a kid?  In the book, Treat Yourself, Jennifer Steinhauer has recreated homemade versions of 70 classic snacks.  Not only can making these treats yourself save you money, they also are a healthier version than what you find on the shelves because they are minus the chemicals and shelf stabilizers that many pre-packaged treats contain (this does not mean these are healthy snacks, just healthier.)  In this book you will find step by step recipes for:

    Classic Cookies-Thin Mints, Gingersnaps, Samoas, Tagalongs, and more

    Sandwich Cookies-Nutter Butters, Oreos, Oatmeal Creme Pies, and more

    Snack Cakes-Twinkies, Star Crunch, Zebra Cakes, and more

    Fruity Treats and Filled Things-Fig Newtons, Lemon Mini Pies, Strawberry Pop Tarts, and more

    Savory Snacks- Soft Pretzels, Pizza Pockets, Cheez-Its, and more

    Candy-Marshmallows, Cracker Jacks, Twix Bars, Candy Dots, and more

    Frozen Treats-Ice Cream Sandwiches, Bomb Pops, Nutty Buddies, and more


    I saw this cookbook, and I just had to get it.  We love to bake and many of these treats were my favorites as a child and I wanted to have an opportunity to recreate those with my children.  The recipes are well written.  Directions are clear and easy to follow.  A photo is included with each recipe.  I liked the introduction to the book as well as the included information about each of the treats.

    My children made quite a list of things they wanted to make and try.  We started out with the Thin Mints.  My 10 year old did most of the recipe himself, except when it came to dipping the cookie into the melted chocolate I helped him a bit.  The Thin Mints were very good.  Not exactly like the girl scout cookie, but very close.  We thought the recipe was a winner.




    Many of the recipes do use a microwave.  We do not have one (shocking I know!) so instead used the top of the stove.  Some of the recipes may be a bit trickier without a microwave though like the moonpies.  But hopefully they will work as well in the oven.

    We look forward to making more yummy snacks with this cookbook!

    Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review. I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

    Wednesday, July 30, 2014

    Curriculum Choices for the 2014/2015 School Year: 7th Grade




    Soon it will be that time again.  A new start to a new school year.  Although we have done some school during the summer, our regular school year runs from August until May.  I have made some final decisions about what we will be using for our main curriculum choices for the 2014/2015 school year and will be posting each age range over the next week or so.  We will of course also be doing some reviews throughout the year and will make room for some electives as well.

    Our main curriculum choices for 7th Grade Include:

    History: Mystery of History Vol 3 with Home School In the Woods timeline figures






    Literature: Instead of a formal literature program I have chosen selections off of the Sonlight 7th grade reading list.  He will complete one selection per month.

    Plus whatever review products come our way.

    I am excited about the upcoming school year and all of the great things we will learn!

    Tuesday, July 29, 2014

    Schoolhouse Crew Review: Hewitt Homeschooling


    Back in 2012, we had an opportunity to review Lightning Literature British Literature Mid-Late 19th Century from Hewitt Homeschooling.  We really, really liked Lightning Literature and continued to use it.  As this school year was drawing to a close, I was trying to find a literature program that I could use that would work for my younger children.  I cannot tell you how excited I was when I found out we had an opportunity to review the new Lightning Literature and Composition 1st Grade program.  We received: Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 Student Workbook and Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 Teacher's Guide.



    Lightning Literature's new elementary series uses award winning picture books to instill a love of great literature in your children, and teach them the basics of composition, grammar and mechanics. They began with the 1st Grade program with plans to add one grade per year until they reach grade 6.  2nd grade will be available this year and 3rd grade will be field testing this fall.

    The 1st grade level of Lightning Literature and Composition can be used with children in the 1st or 2nd grades.  There are two components that need to be purchased.



    The Teacher's Guide ($29.95) is a paperback 318 page book that contains lesson plans, suggested schedule, comprehension questions, answers to the student workbook exercises, teaching tips, an Aesop's Fable for each lesson and ideas for extending the lessons.

    Sample chapter


    The Student Workbook ($49.95) is a paperback, 348 page book that contains the student's grammar and mechanic pages, reading journal pages, dictionary pages, and alphabet and sentence pages.  This book is consumable and you will need one for each child who is using it.

    Sample Chapter


    Lightning Literature and Composition uses a different picture book each week for 36 weeks.  You do not need to buy the books, many will be available at your local library and some you may already own.  Titles include (in the order they are used):




  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
  • Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones by Ruth Heller
  • Umbrella by Taro Yashima
  • The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown
  • Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback
  • The Napping House by Audrey & Don Wood
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter
  • The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster
  • Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say
  • Doctor De Soto by William Steig
  • Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas! by Dr. Seuss
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst
  • Mother Goose Rhymes by Mother Goose
  • Mabela the Clever by Margaret Read MacDonald
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
  • Chester’s Way by Kevin Henkes
  • The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack
  • Mouse Soup by Arnold Lobel
  • Bill and Pete to the Rescue by Tomie dePaola
  • Best Friends for Frances by Russell Hoban
  • Always Room for One More by Sorche Nic Leodhas
  • Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda Gág
  • Curious George Flies a Kite by Margret Reyv
  • Babar the King by Jean de Brunhoff
  • This Is London by M. Sasek
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  • How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head by Bill Peet
  • The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
  • Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein


  • An Aesop's Fable is also used in each lesson. Lightning Lit recommends a Dover Edition, but there are many other editions available you can use or even find them free online.  The fable is not related to the story that week so you can even use an alternate fable if you choose.


    Let's take a look at what a typical week looks like.

    Monday-Read the book and ask your child both literal and inferential comprehension questions. Students complete a grammar/mechanic worksheet and brainstorm for their composition.

    Tuesday- Have the child narrate back to you as much of the story as they can.  Read the book again if you choose.  Students complete the grammar/mechanics assignment, do further brainstorming or ordering of ideas for their composition, and complete the reading journal page.

    Wednesday-Read the book again.  Answer comprehension questions aloud.  Today students complete either an alphabet or sentence worksheet and can enter words in their dictionary pages. The rough draft of the composition is written today.

    Thursday-On Thursday you will read an Aesop's Fable with your child.  Students also complete a grammar/mechanics page and write the final draft of their composition.

    Friday-Fridays are free days. You can complete assignments you didn't get to during the week, take the day off, or do some of the extending the lesson activities if you choose.


    I used Lightning Lit and Comp Grade 1 mostly with my 7 year old.  But, as you can see from the above picture my 3,5,and 9 year olds also listened in to the stories every day, answered some of the comprehension questions, and even worked on and illustrated some compositions.  I read the story aloud every day, sometimes several times.  Christian (7) did the grammar/mechanics exercises in the workbook.  Anything that involves a lot of writing like the Alphabet worksheets, reading journal pages, and the compositions, he dictated to me and I wrote them out for him.  I had several of the books on my shelf already, bought a few more, and borrowed some from the library.  The Aesop's Fables I have been reading from a free online source.
    Christian brainstorming for his instructional paper

    We have really, really enjoyed using Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1!!! We love the stories.  As I mentioned above I read them at least every day, sometimes more than once because my little girls begged, "Please one more time!"  Reading is very important to us in our homeschool.  I am always looking for great books to read and I just love that Hewitt Homeschooling is designing these programs for the younger grades too!  I like the corresponding grammar/mechanics exercises. They are a gentle and age appropriate way to teach the concepts and are visually appealing.  I love the comprehension questions and the narration exercises.  I love the compositions.  It is a great way to get the younger children writing in a way that is fun!  Even if your children are not able to write very much on their own, you can easily allow them to dictate the story to you so they can communicate what they want to say without becoming frustrated. Christian loves to dictate and illustrate his compositions.  When we did Harold and the Purple Crayon, he dictated and illustrated a whole book and even added a second one to his series a week later!
    Anthony's paper and illustration of a time he was sick

    From a teaching standpoint, the program is very easy to use.  I read through the first few pages of the Teacher's Guide when I got the book so I had an idea of how the scheduling worked and what would be done each day.  Besides making sure I have the necessary book, I quickly glanced through the lesson's week at a glance page the Friday before to see if I want to pick up any of the optional reading material from the library.  There isn't any other advanced preparation needed.  I love the flexibility of the program.  If for instance you think the dictionary pages and alphabet pages are too much, you do not have to do those.  If your child is able to do all the writing on their own, great! If not, that's great too!  How much time spent per day is hard to estimate because as I mentioned I read the book every day sometimes more than once, and also if a child is doing the writing on their own it will take longer than if you are writing it for them.  But we have spent less than 30 minutes on it every day.  I love that it runs on a 4 day per week schedule!  We take Fridays off for errands and activities so that was just perfect for us.  Even if you usually work 5 days a week but it gives you a flex day if you run behind during the week and miss a day and need to catch up without trying to cram two days in one, or gives you an opportunity to do some of the extending the lesson activities if you choose.

    If there was one thing that I wish was different it would be that I would love the books to be spiral bound so they can lay flat and leave my hands free and make it easier to write in.

    We are planning on continuing with Lightning Literature and Composition Grade 1 this year and I am looking forward to using more of their elementary series in the future!

    Members of The Crew reviewed a wide variety of products from Hewitt Homeschooling.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.

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    Monday, July 28, 2014

    Schoolhouse Crew Review: Analytical Grammar

    Analytical Grammar Review
    Do your children get excited about learning grammar?  Mine don't either.  But, having knowledge of the parts of speech and how they are supposed to work in a sentence will lead to better writing. Analytical Grammar uses a systematic approach to language mastery that will help learning grammar be less painful for the student and the teacher.  Over the last several weeks I have had an opportunity to use and review Junior Analytical Grammar.

    Junior Analytical Grammar was written for students in 4th or 5th grades.  The program contains 11 units with each unit taking one week to complete.  Each unit builds on the one before it. If you are familiar with Analytical Grammar, Junior Analytical Grammar contains the same material as taught in the first 10 units of Analytical Grammar, but the reading level is lower and the exercises are shorter. The units are: Nouns, Articles and Adjectives, Pronouns, Prepositions, Subject and Verb, Adverbs, Patterns 1 and 2, Pattern 3, Linking Verbs and Patterns 4 and 5 Helping Verbs and Conjunctions and Compound Situations.  There are notes written to the student at the beginning of each unit explaining the concept that they will be learning during that unit.  Then there are 3 days worth of exercises, a playing with words assignment, and a test for each unit.  

    There are two books you need to purchase to use Junior Analytical Grammar.  The Teacher Book is a paperback spiral bound book that contains all of the notes and exercises that are in the student book and of course the answers.  It also contains some information on the education philosophy of Analytical Grammar, notes for home teachers, description of what will be taught in each unit, and notes on correcting tests.  The Student Book is also paperback and spiral bound and contains all of the notes and student exercises.  The Student Book is consumable so you will need one for each student who is using Junior Analytical Grammar.  The Teacher/Student book set is $39.95 and you can purchase additional student books for $19.95.

    View a sample of Junior Analytical Grammar.

    I have been using Junior Analytical Grammar with my 10 year old son who just finished 4th grade. We use it four days per week completing one exercise per day except since we take Fridays off we complete the playing with words and the unit test on Thursday.  We usually spend 10-15 minutes per day on Junior Analytical Grammar except on Thursdays which take a bit longer because we are doubling up.  I sit down with Alex on Monday and read all of the notes on the lesson to him.  Then I go through the first few sentences with him and allow him to work through the others and then we go over the ones he completed on his own.

    I don't think there is really any grammar program out there that is going to make my children stand up and cheer.  But, I really like Junior Analytical Grammar and honestly he has not complained even once when it was time to do his work. I like their educational philosophy of "scaffolding", making sure all of the layers are well built and weaving in the concepts with the prior concepts. The workbooks are simple and not distracting at all.  I love spiral bound books, they allow you to easily keep your place in both books without having to keep them propped open, and they lie flat on the table. The lessons are simple and to the point and can be taught in only minutes a day. I like the constant review and the adding new topics in with the old. There is not much teacher prep at all.  All you need to do is read over the lesson before presenting it to your student.  Even in the few weeks that we have used the product, my son has shown a much greater understanding of the parts of speech then he ever has before.

    Members of The Crew reviewed a variety of products from Analytical Grammar.  To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.
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    Saturday, July 26, 2014

    Arkansas Homeschoolers Reminder to Register

    If you plan on homeschooling for the 2014/2015 school year, you must file your paperwork by August 15th.  There are two forms that need to be filled out, The Notice of Intent and the Homeschool Waiver.  The Notice of Intent is a form informing the superintendent of your district that you will be homeschooling.  It asks your name and address on page one, plus the names of the children you are planning on homeschooling, their date of birth, whether they are male or female, last grade completed, grade they are entering, and what type of school they attended last year.  The second page asks your subjects being studied, and your planned school schedule. It also asks the educational qualifications of parents (what grade you completed in high school/college) and there is a spot at the bottom that has to be notarized if your child is planning on getting a driver's permit that year.  On the spaces that ask your curriculum and schedule, you do not have to be incredibly specific and it is ok if your plans change during the year.  My schedule says: 4 hours per day, 4 days per week, 36 week school year.  My subjects and curriculum lists the basic subjects and curriculum companies such as : Math-Math U See, History: Mystery Of History, Science: Apologia etc...The second form is a waiver basically stating that the state of Arkansas is not responsible for the education of your children and you just need to list the children's names and birth dates, your address and phone number, and sign the form.

    You can either register by paper form or online.  Next year they will only be allowing the online option option.  If you are a first time homeschooler, you must submit your paperwork in person according to Arkansas Homeschool Law.  Anyone else who chooses the paper option can mail in your form.  If you are using the paper option, I recommend you keep a copy of your paperwork for your records and they have to be received not postmarked by the 15th.

    You can find the forms here.  The site does seem to have trouble at times so if you cannot get it to load, try again later on.  Last year those that chose to file online did not get their responses for several months saying they were now legal to homeschool but I have heard that this year they are getting them much faster.  There are a few issues with the wording on the electronic forms(telling you are not legal until your form is approved), but hopefully those will be ironed out before it becomes mandatory to file online.

    However you decide to file, make sure you get it in before August 15th!

    If you have any questions about filling out the forms, please let me know and I will help in any way I can.

    Happy Homeschooling!

    Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    Schoolhouse Crew Review: Apologia Educational Ministries, Flourish

    Flourish Book Revie
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    Many people know of Apologia Educational Ministries because of their award winning science and worldview curriculum.  But, they also have a wealth of materials to support and encourage homeschooling parents.   I recently had an opportunity to read and review Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms  by Mary Jo Tate.
    Flourish Book Review
    Flourish is a 288 page paperback book written for homeschooling mamas.  It was not written just for stay at home homeschoolmoms, but also working homeschool moms, work at home homeschool moms, and single homeschool moms as well.  In it you will find practical principles to make your home life more successful and balanced and help you find ways to make the most of your time and enjoy your homeschooling journey.  Flourish contains 16 chapters:

    An Invitation to Flourish
    Change Your Mind to Change Your Time
    The FREEDOM Toolbox
    Where Did My Time Go?
    Aim High: Setting Goals
    What Do I Do Next?: Seven Essential Planning Tools
    We Interrupt This Program
    It's Time For An Attitude Adjustment
    Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days
    Training Your Children
    Making Memories
    Managing Your Home
    All of Life Learning
    Solo Act: Flourishing as a Single Mom
    Home Business
    Moving Ahead

    Each chapter is full of personal stories, quotes, and real life examples related to the topic being discussed.  At the end of each chapter you will find several activities to help you take action and apply what you have learned in that chapter to your life.  At the end of the book there is a list of Recommended Resources and a set of planning forms.  After purchasing Flourish, you will have access to customizable versions of the forms that you can download to your computer and print out.

    You can purchase Flourish: Balance for Homeschool Moms for $15.

    Flourish Sample

    One of the first things that I wondered when I found out we would have an opportunity to review this book was, " Will it teach me anything new?" You see, as a mom that has been homeschooling for 10 years, I find that many homeschool encouragement books are written towards the brand new homeschool mom and do not have anything in them that I have not read many times before. Flourish arrived and I dived right in completing one chapter per day.  As soon as I started reading, I discovered that Flourish has something in it for everyone.  Whether you are a brand new homeschool mom, a veteran homeschool mom, a homeschool work at home mom, or a single homeschool mom there is something in this book for you.  Every one of us can use advice about how to make our lives more balanced and who does not want their lives and homeschool to Flourish?  Mary Jo gives a lot of great advice and practical examples on how to make that happen. Some of them you may know or do already, but some you may not. You may want to read with your highlighter or something to underline in hand, because I wish'd I would have.  I may have to go back and read it again!

    A couple of things that really stood out to this homeschool mom was when Mary Jo was talking about time and time management.  We only have so many hours in the day, and by saying yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else and we need to make sure that are yes to one thing isn't making us say no to something that may be more important.  I really like her "Freedom Toolbox" with Freedom being an acronym for: Focus, Reflect, Educate, Eliminate, Discipline, Organize, and Multitask.  I used to think I had a great memory (and maybe a few children ago I did!) and never felt the need to write anything down.  I am still not great at making lists but I am working on it.  By writing things down it is one less thing I have to worry about spinning my brain into overload!  Another thing that especially stood out to me was the idea of managing your home along with the eliminate part of the Freedom Toolbox.  Too much clutter makes me overwhelmed especially when it seems like we do not have a place for everything.  I have started removing some of the clutter systematically so it is one less thing I have to manage.  I started with the boys closet.  We had way too many clothes up there, and it was wonderfully freeing to see them all go out the door!

    There may be some sections of Flourish that you do not think will apply to you such as the section on single moms or home business, but they are worth reading through anyway.  You may know single homeschooling moms or find something in the home business section that you can apply to your life or you may start a business someday.  Flourish is a book that you can take what you need out of it and perhaps down the road you may read it again and be ready to add in more of a certain area.  You can tweak the planning goals to fit whatever your situation may be at that time as like everything else about homeschooling we are all unique and each person's Life In Balance will look a little different.

    To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below!
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